‘There is no such thing as a joke’: CRCSD goes back to school after threat circulates on social media

Cedar Rapids Community School District returns to school after threat
Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 10:56 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A video circulating on social media won’t stop Cedar Rapids Schools from resuming classes Tuesday, after cancelling classes Monday.

Officials have only described the threat as made by an unidentified person on social media, and have not given details about what the threat entailed.

There will be a number of changes and precautionary measures when students return to class Tuesday. They include:

  • No early bird classes or AM activities/practices
  • No student backpacks, bags, or purses of any kind will be allowed at any CRCSD school. Students should only bring their Chromebook and school supplies needed for the day. Students may use a clear bag to help carry these items.
  • Students and staff must access each school building using only one or two designated entrance locations before, during, and after the school day. The designated entrances will be indicated with signage when students arrive at school in the morning.
  • If a student comes to school with a backpack, purse, or non-clear bag, school staff will ask them to remove the items they need for the day, and then place the bag in the school office until school is dismissed. Students will not be allowed to access them during the school day.
  • Students may bring lunch boxes, but school staff will be looking through them when the student arrives at school.
  • No lunch releases for high school students tomorrow.

“The threats may turn out to be not credible... but the rumors, misinformation and anxiety that’s created by the threat spreads throughout the school community and creates anxiety for days,” said Dr. Kenneth Trump, a consultant and school safety expert based out of Ohio.

That anxiety very present in Cedar Rapids right now, with some parents saying online they will not be sending their children to school Tuesday.

Trump said while most threats are not credible, each one needs to be taken seriously.

“Nine out of 10 threats may turn out to be unfounded, but nobody wants to be that school, or that kid who’s a victim, from one that turns out to be a credible threat,” he said.

Trump’s advice was to have threat assessment training and protocols in place to avoid a knee-jerk reaction when a threat is made.

“A lot of times we’re finding the school administrators will react and then assess, rather than assess and then react. They just respond emotionally, close schools, say it’s out of an abundance of caution,” said Trump.

According to official with the Cedar Rapids Community School District, the Cedar Rapids Police Department is continuing to investigate, but also they have “completed the majority of their work.”

Both the school district and Trump said now was a good time to talk to kids and emphasize that even making a threat as a joke can lead to serious consequences.

“Young people who often make these threats need to realize that there is no such thing as a joke. When you make these threats, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” said Trump.